Sonja offered to buy me a treadmill yesterday. She said it might be good for my mental health. We are in a state of self-quarantine and I’m bouncing off the walls. I still go run everyday during the kids’ nap; I’m averaging seven miles. But being a naturally social person who normally interacts with hundreds of people on a daily basis is causing my brain to malfunction slightly in quarantine. Are we overreacting? Some people think so, but I suppose the bottom line is that we have the capacity to be overly cautious — Sonja and I are both working from home right now, with schools closed indefinitely across the state as of yesterday, and we’ve been keeping the kids home from daycare since late last week. We have two tiny children who mean the entire world to us; why wouldn’t we take every possible precaution? The question bothering me right now is: how long is this going to last?
Cutting to the chase, extreme times call for extreme wine. Philosophically, and in speaking with many of you, I’ve decided to start drinking some of my better bottles from the cellar. Not to be morbid but, like money, I won’t be able to take them with me. There are a lot of amazing bottles down there, but after Sunday night I knew just which one I was after when I visited the cellar yesterday.
The Debate wines are made by my friend Jean Hoefliger. Until recently, Jean made the wine at Alpha Omega, and Newton before that. He was nicknamed “The Swiss Machine” by vintners in the Napa Valley for producing 100 point wines at an uncanny pace — also for being Swiss. Jean is a great person, and he makes great wine. We texted a bit a few days ago and he’s doing well despite the chaos. I was excited to drink this one last night, and happy when Sonja decided to join in.
It’s also worth mentioning that this particular wine is sourced from what is probably the single most famous Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard in the world. To Kalon was already known when it was purchased by Robert Mondavi back in the 60’s. I won’t give you a long history lesson, but the short version is that this vineyard, on the Mayacamas side of Highway 29 in the Napa Valley, grows amazing fruit that sells for insane prices. This particular fruit actually comes from Andy Beckstoffer’s side of To Kalon, as opposed to that owned by Constellation which owns Mondavi. I was actually talking to Andy about climate change and how it’s impacting the industry last week, but that’s a different story. Anyway, these grapes are special, and worthy of more than a little geeking-out by a cork dork like me.
The bottle had collected dust and cobwebs. I pulled the cork and dumped the contents unceremoniously into a decanter, slowing near the end to catch the fine sediment in the shoulder of the bottle. Then I took the kids up to help put them to bed. Titus and I read an extra long chapter in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the one about Snape catching Harry when he returns from Honeydukes after pelting Malfoy with mud in front of the Shrieking Shack. Anyway, the wine decanted for over an hour, and then Sonja and I lit a fire and sat down to talk. A terrifically deep, chocolatey-ruby hue and explosive aromatics assured me immediately that this wine was indeed special. A bouquet of baking spices, muted vanilla, raspberry, apple blossoms, and plum lead toward a palate supported by fine, firm tannins. Lacking nothing, with notes of tart bing cherry, saddle leather, cinnamon, earthy notes, pomegranate and more, the lingering dry finish stuck my upper lip to my gums. It was a phenomenal bottle of wine, and relaxing to share at the end of the day — especially these days.
As I’ve said in the past, I can’t think of a better time to pull a few good bottles out of the cellar. If we’re going to isolate ourselves, we ought to have something enjoyable to do. This was a good start. I’m thinking of hosting a Zoom wine tasting to get some of the social interaction I need — would you be up for it? Let me know. Until next time, thanks for reading, and if you do end up drinking your better bottles please be sure and let me know! Stay safe, friends.